Historical Background & Shooting Today
The hey-day of the muzzle loading era for rifle marksmen in Great Britain was the first two decades of the National Rifle Association's (NRA) existence; broadly 1860-1880. Target rifle competition was held at distances out to 1,000 yards (sometimes further) in local, national and international events. Accuracy achieved with these rifles was formidable, one notable achievement being the Irish rifleman J.K.Milner's unprecedented 15 consecutive bulls-eyes at 1000 yards, fired at Creedmoor in the Centennial Match of 1876 using a Rigby muzzle loading match rifle.
Learn More: The Muzzle Loading Match Rifle in Great Britain
Two national associations within the UK cater for the discipline of long range muzzle loading, namely the Muzzle Loaders Association of Great Britain (MLAGB) and the National Rifle Association (NRA). The Long Range Rifles Branch of the MLAGB formed because of a shared interest in the sport and history and have a full programme of events, generally tied in with MLAGB events to often provide a full weekend (and longer) of shooting.
Learn more: Long Range Muzzle Loading in Great Britain
The World Governing body for muzzle loading shooting is the Muzzle Loaders Associations International Committee (MLAIC), who in 1999 introduced long range World Championships to their competition programme. Sports governing bodies and national associations provide opportunities to compete and may be able to provide club contacts at local levels.
Learn more: Long Range Muzzle Loading Worldwide
Choice of match rifle today will be that of a modern made reproduction, including custom built rifles, or an original rifle. Many competitions make no distinction between reproduction and original rifles, although in international events they are fired in their own classes. Nothing beats experience in the discipline of long range muzzle loading. Rifle, equipment and to an extent the shooter can be tuned for optimum performance at shorter ranges, and the mid-range shooting of 200 to 600 yards offers valuable opportunity to learn. At longer distances the shooter really needs to get to the range and start to learn the effects that changing wind and atmospheric conditions have on the flight of the bullet. It is a challenging discipline but ultimately rewarding and the thrill of seeing the target drop below the mantlet at 1000 yards and reappear with a V-bull scored really has to be felt!
Learn more: LRML: Rifles & Equipment
In the UK for many years the MLAGB have included within their calendar of events National Rifle Championship matches at 200, 300, 500 and 600 yards for Enfield rifles, the service arm of the British soldier in the mid-19th Century. The Long Range Rifles Branch of the MLAGB also includes within their competitions the Asquith Cup match, an aggregate fired at 600 and 800 yards with .577 military percussion rifles.
Learn more: Long Range Shooting with the Military Muzzle Loading Rifle
Long Range Muzzle Loading
Long range target shooting with the muzzle loading rifle offers the discerning rifleman opportunity to participate in a challenging and ultimately very rewarding discipline. The sport is rich in heritage and the origins of some of todays national shooting associations stem from the muzzle loading era.
- The following articles credited to Bill Roberts are reprinted (with permission) from “Long Range Black Powder Shooting” – William A. Roberts, Jr. Muzzle Blasts, USA, November 1999, December 1999, January 2000.
- A Beginner’s Perspective
- Bullets & Wads
- Loading Accessories
- Loading the Rifle
- Shooting Pointers
- Casting Bullets
- Pedersoli Gibbs: Instructions & Advice for Long Range Shooting - Special instructions packed with new Pedersoli Gibbs rifles after late 2006.
- Bedding the Parker-Hale - It is perfectly possible to clean a muzzle loading Enfield type of rifle thoroughly without ever taking the barrel out of the wood.
- Breech Plugs - The long range muzzle loading rifle is a specialty of its own and has components that are not found on any other type of muzzle loader. The most important of these is the breech plug.
- Euroarms Volunteer: Disassembly Assembly - Removing the breech plug from the Volunteer is not a straight forwards process!
There aren't many internet resources that deal with long range muzzle loading that the author has found. Readers will however find the following helpful:
- vring blog documents the authors journey through LRML. Training, tuning and technique are covered, along with match reports.
- Long Range Muzzle Loader - The Long Range Muzzle Loader mailing list is for those interested in the history of and shooting the percussion small-bore (.451) muzzle loading target rifle. Discussion topics can include original or replica rifles such as the UK made Whitworth, Henry, Metford, Rigby and 'Volunteer' and other world wide long range muzzle loading rifles. Associated equipment, sights, moulds, loading, competition/range reports, wind, mirage etc are also valid topics.